April 17th’s 20 inning Mets-Cardinals game has already been discussed in these pages, but this article from SI’s Sky Andrecheck offers a little more background on the history of position players being pressed into service as relief pitchers. Needless to say, the historical results track with Felipe Lopez and Joe Mather’s combined effort.
Andrecheck points out that only one position player has ever come into a game as a relief pitcher and earned a victory: Colorado Rockies catcher Brent Mayne in 2000. I offer this game by way of introduction; I was at Coors Field that night, an impressionable catcher like Mayne.
Better writers than I will wax poetic about the importance of memories and baseball, and how what we see on our high-definition televisions tonight is forever linked to the shortwave broadcasts of our grandfathers. It is this continuity, this seamlessness, that makes baseball so appealing to so many, from the most dedicated classicist to the most fervent Sabermetrician. It is what makes me remember an otherwise mundane game in an otherwise mundane Summer.
Brent Mayne spent a career being an average catcher, but he is now immortalized in the beautiful weirdness of baseball: he came on in relief in an extra inning game to be the only position player to record a victory. The losing pitcher in that game was John Rocker, himself a prince of weirdness in baseball’s court.
This kind of thing is what makes baseball worth writing about. The Matts have set out to create a blog of “curious” baseball intelligence, and I’m going to do my small part to add to that.